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Archive:

Nearly everyone is chasing youth and vigor and would like to find a pill or shot that can turn back the aging clock. Perhaps growth hormone (GH) may be a possibility to reverse the aging process..

What is growth hormone? Your body makes GH to help fuel growth in your childhood and to help maintain your tissues and organs throughout your life. As you age, your body slowly reduces the amount of growth hormone it produces. The level of growth hormone in your body begins to drop in your 40s.

GH is available only by prescription and is usually given by via injections. It's currently approved to treat adults with true growth hormone deficiency -- not the expected decline in GH due to aging.

Growth hormone is currently approved for:
- Children with short stature
- Children with kidney disease
- Muscle wasting associated with AIDS and HIV
Studies of adults with GH deficiencies show that injections of GH can:
- Increase bone density
- Increase muscle mass
- Decrease body fat
- Bolster the heart's ability to contract
- Improve mood and motivation
- Increase exercise capacity

Because of those results, some people believe that synthetic growth hormone can help healthy older adults who have naturally low levels of GH regain some of their youth and vitality. But the cost of this kind of treatment does not come cheap. An annual cost of $20,000 is not unusual and the cost is rarely covered by insurance and certainly not by

Many experts on aging indicate that proper nutrition and regular exercise, especially strength training, will yield equal or better results in building muscle mass and increasing well-being among older patients without the pitfalls of GH and without the exorbitant expense of GH.

Bottom Line: Your doctor can explain more about how GH works in your body and whether it's something your body needs more of. If you have specific concerns about aging, such as gaining weight, your doctor can suggest ways to improve your health safely. Taking simple steps, such as eating a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables and exercising daily, can help keep your body in shape and help you feel better about yourself as you age.

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